We felt rather sheepish once we realized that James' lack of enthusiasm for first grade had little to do with his ability--he is, we learned, abundantly capable of doing the work.
The problem was: he didn't want to work. He'd rather devise strategic moves for beating second grade boys at tether-ball. Or just stare out the window blowing spit bubbles.
The best cure for laziness? Work. Lots of work.
It's amazing how quickly this cure took affect. After two days of non-stop manual labor after school, early bedtime, no dessert, no sports and no free time--James made a stunning improvement at school.
"How did you do it?" his teacher asked me, baffled.
"All work, no play," I answered.
"Thank you so much!" she said.
It seems she's had plenty of experience with parents who don't...um, parent their children?
Still, we had to proceed with the requisite Student Study Team meeting which included a daunting array of educational experts: principal, school psychologist, special resource teacher, James' teacher and another first-grade teacher.
Or as Matt saw it: "A roomful of women all staring at me."
The agenda? To discuss "strategies" for getting James to do his work.
We were a week ahead of them. In addition to instituting After School Boot Camp we'd created a reward system by which James will earn points towards the ultimate goal of winning a Big Prize.
The secret formula for motivating James, we discovered, is corrective discipline sweetened with tangible incentive.
The "experts" were taken aback. I guess parents who actually parent their children are going extinct?
"Well, I think we're done here," said the principal, wrapping up the meeting-that-wasn't-a-meeting. "And unless anyone objects, I see no reason to schedule a follow-up."
At which point Matt was hard pressed to keep from bursting into laughter. But he maintained his composure, shook hands all around and then chuckled all the way to the car.
Matt & I shared a good deal of relieved laughter when he called to give me the scoop. It had been a rough few weeks of frenetic brainstorming, fervent prayer and more than a few tears.
The magic motivational formula may need some tweaking, but with a good dose of God's grace and two parents determined to raise a hard-working, successful young man I think it can be done.
Blabber Boy just might be reforming his ways. Scratch that. Blabber Boy will be reforming his ways.
'Cuz I have lots more work for him if he doesn't.